Monday, March 7, 2011

A little Vegas, a lot of driving

The only way to land in Vegas is at night.. it is so exciting when the plane enters the valley and the lights flood the ground like, "a bunch er Christmas lights" to quote the redneck in row 33 of our flight (what we get for flying to Vegas the weekend of the NASCAR race).  Your first sight of The Strip is a whole other feeling; you are just ready to grab a huge drink and hit Las Vegas Blvd!  We land smoothly and everyone clearly becomes anxious to get off the plane, Dan and I included. Of course, we were sitting in the 30th row, so it took forever.  The next part is my least favorite part of traveling: waiting to see if your checked luggage actually made it to your final destination.  Thank the Lord, it made it! (gave me a scare for a bit)

After an informative, but drug out cab ride (he at least acknowledged the fact that he went way out of the way and cut us a deal) we checked into the hotel, dropped the luggage off, and immediately hit The Strip.  We thought we'd cut through MGM Grand on our way to Hard Rock Cafe, which turned out to be a bit more difficult than intended.  Low and behold, we ended up walking head-on with a never-ending mass of middle aged couples leaving the Eric Clapton concert.  Eventually we made it to Hard Rock Cafe, where we had a much needed Long Island and Pulled Pork.  Despite the awful playlist while we were there, we did manage to learn a new drink trick/mix created by our bartender.  Totally stealing that.  With some grub finally in our stomachs, we started exploring the rest of The Strip.  After losing some spare cash some slot machines at New York, New York and showing Dan the ropes of Let It Ride and Blackjack, we still weren't satisfied with calling it a night.  The drinks so far had been weak, so we stepped it up a notch. 

Favorite view of The Strip, looking north

 The drink: Category 5 Hurricane (surprise, it has a weather name!); the liqour in it: Bacardi 151; the size: 32 ounces.  Oh shit.  I usually don't indulge in sugary drinks (been avoiding them for many reasons, mainly health.. and I'd much rather have a beer), but screw it, it's vacation. 

We walked all the way down to Caesar's Palace from New York, New York, mainly people watching as we consumed our rather large drinks along the way.  At least we walked off some of what we were consuming, I guess.  Probably not.  By the time we made it back to our hotel we were exhausted, a bit drunk, and our feet were blistered to hell.

We woke up, checked out, and were at the airport shortly after noon to pick up our rental car.  The process went smoothly, and we managed to upgrade from a little Toyota Yaris to a VW Jetta for only $16.  Unfortunately, I totally underestimated the price of renting a car. After fees for being under 25 (outrageous rule most rental companies have), taxes, and a security deposit we were looking at double what I was expecting.  At least we will be getting that security deposit back.  At this point, I decided to ignore the usual discomfort I get from spending large amounts of money.  I'm not going to truly enjoy this trip if I'm constantly worried about funds.. I will be fine, it's just money.  This trip will be unforgettable and hopefully, productive.

Our drive through the desert was enjoyable; windows down and tunes cranking.  There was literally NOTHING around us, yet I couldn't stop looking around.  Just as it the surroundings started to get repetitive, we crossed into Arizona (woohoo, new state!) and entered the Virgin River Gorge.  I knew pictures wouldn't quite do it justice, so I recorded the first, and most fascinating, part of the drive.

The scenery once we entered Utah (another new state) didn't disappoint, either.  My favorite picture of the trip so far captured the red hills just inside the state line, with the snow-capped mountains in the background.

Amazing contrast
Love landscape pictures in black & white

As we continued into Utah, the clouds rolled in and the temperature steadily dropped from 70 to 39, shortly followed by rain for the last 2 hours of the drive.  My initial thought when we could finally see downtown Salt Lake City was, "This is a much bigger city than I expected!"  Can't wait to see it in the daylight.  After an exhausting drive, we just needed some dinner and the comfort of a bed.  We grabbed dinner at the Red Rock Brewery, which was hit and miss for us.  I had an awesome entree of Chicken Schnitzel and their delicious Elephant Double IPA.

Perfectly cooked chicken.  Loved the Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, too.

Dan, on the other hand, had one of the worst Amber Ales ever and a "hoagie" that was served on a pita..??  The inner beer nerd in us came out when we left, as we bought a a big bottle of their new Belgian style ale to take back to the room.  Nothing beats a good beer while relaxing in the hotel room.  Once again, it's vacation, so I'm splurging a bit.  I've really cut back on my boozin', which I can attribute to some of my recent weight loss.  Anyways, that's for another blog post.

Now, with the beer consumed and lights out, I'm ready to get some sleep.. yeah, an infomercial for the Ab Rocket Twister just came on, it's time I called it a night.  Tomorrow is a BIG day.  I have two interviews with faculty at the U of Utah.  My recent acceptance letter has given me more confidence, not to mention peace of mind. I did manage to get some reading done in preparation throughout the ride today, so hopefully that helps me wow them tomorrow.  Fingers crossed and prayers for some funding!

Good night and thanks for following.  I will leave you with this:

Dan the Sexy Sax Man

If you don't know what I'm referring to, watch this:

1 comment:

  1. Guess I should warn you...Nana is reading this blog.
    And Oh my God what a haircut Dan!